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Important quantum projects and quantum information science 2021

Quantum projects represent precursors to the much anticipated, allegedly ultrasecure, quantum internet. Quantum projects leverage information theory, quantum information theory, high-performance computation, advanced computing, experimental science and other cutting-edge frameworks and methodologies.

In the US, the Department of Energy recently awarded $61 million in grant funding to quantum initiatives. Of the available resources, $30 million will be dedicated to quantum projects that increase US competitiveness in the space. Twenty-five million dollars will be allotted to the development of quantum internet testbeds. An allocation of $6 million will support research focused on establishing the building blocks of a quantum internet.

Why the quantum project funding?

The federal funding follows private sector lobbying for investment in practical quantum projects. The investment also aligns with the Department of Energy’s 2020 release of blueprints for a nationwide quantum internet. Both public and private sector groups state that quantum internet communications would prove difficult to intercept and that the network would be nearly unhackable. The Department of Energy’s national laboratories may produce a new internet prototype within the next decade.

Says Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granolm, “Harnessing the quantum world will create new forms of computers and accelerate our ability to process information and tackle complex problems like climate change.” Further, “[the] DOE and our labs across the country are leading the way on this critical research that will strengthen our global competitiveness and help corner the markets of these growing industries…”

Quantum projects funded

In 2020, federally-affiliated researchers constructed a three-node, 80-mile testbed that connected the Argonne National and Fermi National Accelerator labs with the University of Chicago. This represents an intensive, early foray into the field of quantum information science.

Within the DOE’s Nanoscale Science Research Centers, a total of eight unique quantum projects just received $30M worth of funding. Experts intend for these projects to lead to breakthroughs in quantum information sciences, chemistry material sciences, and energy use.

Although some scientifically minded individuals criticized the Department of Energy for investing in “moonshot” style projects, others contend that an investment in quantum projects can help the US business and economic advantages. Federal officials intend for the new round of funding to accelerate quantum research, which has vast and diverse applications.

Quantum testbed projects

In 2020, federally-affiliated researchers constructed a three-node, 80-mile testbed that connected the Argonne National and Fermi National Accelerator labs with the University of Chicago. This represents an intensive, early foray into the field of quantum information science.

In addition to the national 80-mile testbed project, the Department of Energy (DOE) also wants other groups to pursue testbed projects. To that effect, the DOE awarded $25 million to the Oak Ridge, Los Alamos and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories. Scientists aim to produce quantum internet stacks, hardware, operating systems, applications, quantum error correction at internet scale and more.

Broadly speaking, the DOE maintains an interest in viable use cases for quantum infrastructure. Short-term wins and longer-term initiatives both appeal to the DOE at present.

Check out Cyber Talk’s past coverage of quantum infrastructure development here. In addition, see our article titled Closing the Quantum Computing Gap. Lastly, sign up for our newsletter here.

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